(she is lovely, isn’t she?)
Now that’s out of the way, motivations:
This blog was set up in an attempt to approach the problems of a younger left on a more heterogeneous level. I am in contact with a farmer here in France, for instance, who grows my produce on his plot outside Paris. He, amongst innumerable others, has access to a world of knowledge and motivations that I simply cannot access at this current time – all of which we welcome and require for the development of this blog.
The internet is thus a space that has the capacity to fold into itself endless streams of differing information and subjectivities, this much is clear to almost everyone and takes no analysis to uncover. What arises from this, aside with the almost infinite possibilities of global communication, does of course need questioning. How, for example, are social networking sites modifying (or more likely compounding) current ideological tendencies – the manner in which we regard others, the availability and proliferation of means of procrastination? Still, such questions are relatively basic. Even to state that facebook/myspace/twitter et al. function as today’s ‘opiate for the masses’ (and I count myself party to this) is not a great stretch of the imagination, though it is an important recognition nonetheless and one I feel must be constantly reasserted in order to ward off their malevolent consequences.
My motivations arise, then, in opening up a(nother) place for such questions.
I will pose another now, one which I have been thinking on a lot recently and which affects the very medium of the blog. Can such advances in technology be harnessed for social change? Or do they presuppose a methodology for looking at the world that is inherently capitalist? For me, this is nowhere more clear an issue than in the recent development of the iPhone, which I am sure will soon be surpassed in both technology and proliferation. On any one metro trip to work, a book store (which will provide ample issues and blogs), iPhones are literally everywhere. Whilst it can be claimed, obviously, that such technology is a utility, it becomes clear that these developments begin to act as social agents as much as social signposts – effecting as well as serving.
The objection I hold to such gadgets is manifold, being firstly born of dependency – or my desire not be dependent upon such items. This, itself, may betray an ideological imperative on my behalf, but perhaps others may decipher this more easily than I. The main issue, of course, is the inherent stranglehold that capitalism has on technology and the fact that so many ‘lefties’ seem wilfully to speak out against capitalism on one hand and check iPhone facebook on the other.
This problem can be reduced, I suppose, to Zizek’s comment that ‘Resistance is Surrender’, in the sense that capitalism’s genius is that it has subsumed all aspects of socio-cultural actions/events into itself. Even protest becomes an affirmation of the rights of liberal democracy. But this will inform further posts, and shouldn’t get in the way now, at least.
How, then, do we mediate such issues? As someone of strong beliefs, I am highly tempted to ditch the iPod as soon as it ‘shuffle[s] off this mortal coil’, to attempt the retrieval of computers from sources other than corporations, etc. At what point is it ridiculous to shun the wave of technology?
This has turned into a bit of a ramble, but so be it, for I think that whilst clarity is of course needed on this blog, and in attempting to mediate the shit stream of contemporary society, to do so in a wholly academic and restricted manner is not conducive to socialist progression. In response to Joe’s comments about cynicism (https://thenightshifts.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/a-little-bit-about-me/), the role of creativity here to loosen the bonds of capitalist structures is crucial. We must be at once ruthless and yet also fluid, malleable and able to laugh at our own ridiculousness (at the fact that I quite hypocritically used the image of that lovely lady covered in ads. to grab your attention)
So I say: farmers, programmers, economists, business men, politicians, doctors, artists and theorists – get blogging you slack bastards.
I am enamoured with such technological advances as OpenSource (http://www.openoffice.org/ for a free office suite, for instance) which allows the world’s programmers to collaborate on free software and offer it back to the public – and something which should be spread with relish (no pun) across the internet.